In Memory of Mom
Having just lost Mom a few weeks ago after her courageous fight with breast cancer, I know that she would want me to use this Christmas message to accomplish three goals:
- Save a life
- Love your Family
- Recognize the greatest gift from God
Our journey started exactly this time last year when I received the call from Mom’s neighbor that Mom was not well. For the first time in forever, we did not spend Thanksgiving with our Family in Manistee because co-vid was raging. The fear of spreading the virus cost us a year of family time and memories together. As a result, I did not see Mom in person and moms sure can do a great job of hiding what is really going on.
Her Journey With Cancer
I immediately drove from Grand Rapids to Manistee only to find Mom in excruciating pain in her back and very weak. Words could never do justice for the amount of pain she was in. Through a snowstorm and unfortunately every bump in the road we got her to Grand Rapids. Fortunately the hospital admitted her as they were at full capacity with Co-vid patients taking every room possible. We were put in the hallway of a covid floor in the emergency department. They determined that Mom had cancer in her bones and a tumor in her back that was causing this horrible pain. The cancer was traced back to being metastatic hormone receptor+ breast cancer. She had a very large lump and the cancer was stage 4. The doctors worked miracles and were able to perform a procedure that “fried” the tumor and then filled the void with epoxy. It was simply amazing!
The next stop was Mary Free Bed rehabilitation here in Grand Rapids. The staff was so kind and caring that Mom was able to graduate in early January pain free (other than Tylenol PM.) She wanted to go home to spend what time she had left with her friends in Manistee. So, we found an assisted living home for her to move into.
We asked Mom if she had done annual mammograms and how did this cancer happen so fast. Unfortunately, she had been told that after 75 years mammograms were optional. As a result, she decided not to have the testing done.
For the next 11 months Mom had to have infusions and treatments every 3 weeks at the Ludington Cancer Center which is 40 minutes south of Manistee. These treatments basically would eliminate her estrogen and progesterone, because those hormones were feeding the cancer. We understood that this would only buy time as there is no cure for stage 4 breast cancer.
I would drive to Manistee from Grand Rapids then to Ludington and wait for the 3 hour treatment and then take her back to Manistee then back to Grand Rapids. On these days, I would work early before I left, at the Cancer Facility while I waited and then again in the evening when I got back to Apex. All of this was without hesitation for Mom. But, I remember when I thought to myself, how can I make it through this day. Then Mom put everything in prospective. During these trips we had such great time just talking and spending time together. One day she looked at me and said “Dennis there is one good thing about this cancer”. I asked her what in the world are are you talking about and she looked at me and said “I get to see my son more often.”
We continued with the treatments and her neighbors were so helpful in taking her to local appointments and sometimes even to Ludington.
Mom had 11 great months that she was able to spend with her family and friends, and by some miracle, she spent it all pain free. She died peacefully on November 9th. And by God’s grace, the pain she was so scared that would come back, never did.
Life, Love, and The Greatest Gift
So this message is for you Mom, and we know we can make it count and make a difference. If we accomplish just one of the following it was worth the journey you had.
Save a life – Mom stopped getting Mammograms. Please for all the women do not stop this yearly task no matter what age you are. Breast Cancer with early detection is one of the most curable cancers! As a matter of fact, many people because of co-vid stopped doing their annual tests for so many health needs. Please get back on track as prevention or early detection is the difference between life and death.
Love your Family – The holiday season is the greatest time to spend time with your Family. We never know what God’s plan is for us and we should recognize how precious our time is and how much love we have for each other. I know that we will miss Mom so much this Christmas. I encourage you to take this Christmas to spend time with your family, and make lasting memories.
Recognize the gift – Most importantly, I hope you know that God gave us the greatest gift of all time. It is not something you earn. It is not a right. It is simply a free gift from Him! God gave his only Son to die for us. Jesus Christ is our Savior. All we have to do is BELIEVE.
The Apex team wishes everyone a Merry Christmas! Make it the best one ever!
Dennis K. Bhaskaran – CEO